Eye contact, visual stimming and side glancing in Autism

Why does your child with autism have trouble making eye contact, look out of the sides of their eyes, stim in front of their eyes or look at toys and people very closely (sometimes moving like a camera lense in and out)???

Years ago I watched a Ted Talk called How Brains Learn to See. As a Naturopathic Doctor who has been focusing on biomedical treatment of autism for the last 14 years, I had long suspected what Dr. Pawan Sinha discovered through his research, that children with autism have impaired visual processing which, in turn, slows down their ability to create both visual motor plans and motor plans needed for verbal communication.

Difficulties with motor planning is a core issue in autism.  The stronger the motor planning, the stronger the communication, social and learning skills.  So how do we support motor planning in children with autism spectrum disorder?

First, we need to assess and treat the reason for visual processing impairment.  Dr. Meg Megson, a fellow DAN (Defeat Autism Now!) and MAPS doctor (Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs), has postulated that the visual deficits in autism are related to damaged G proteins.  Her research and clinical experience has lead to using a special form of vitamin A to improve visual motor planning, which will improve eye contact, reduce visual stimming, reduce side glancing and often improve verbal communication and social interaction.  The first step in biomedical treatment of autism is to address the visual motor planning impairment.  When treated, this opens the door to other gains in terms of language (it helps to see someone’s mouth move when you are learning to speak), social interaction (seeing people’s facial features is crucial to appropriate social emotional responses), cognitive (most learning skills rely heavily on visual processing) and behaviour (processing the visual information surrounding you increases quality of life and reduces frustration).